Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain

What is Myofascial Release (MFR therapy)? How can it relieve pain? Let’s discuss how MFR has improved our health and reduced pain and share articles about how MFR works. MFR helps so many different conditions that have compressed tissues, and entrapped blood vessels and nerves. The time to avoid MFR treatment would be if a person has cancer, because in releasing tight tissues, cancer cells could be released and able to migrate through the body.

Myofascial release is a way to stretch the fascial layers that holds our body together. The fascia is connective tissue that forms a web matrix that interconnects everything in the body. It has recently been described as the “Interstitium” or a new organ in the body.

Fascia can be too tight from injuries or surgical scar tissue, and hold the body in poor ergonomics which can lead to nerve compression. Fascia can be stretched or “released” and it will remodel itself by changing from a semi solid to liquid form which brings circulation to an area of compressed tissue which then expands the tissue and circulation, and it enables removal of metabolic waste products. Using their hands, the trained therapist will find the path of fascial restriction in the patient’s body and push against it gently in a shearing motion, and wait for the tissue to start to slide. The patient can feel the movement and become body aware. This path of fascial movement can reach the full length of the body and cross over between sides. This path changes as it unravels, and often there is a vasomotor response that can be seen on the skin temporarily as a reddish area where circulation has been restored which is shown on the photo below near the therapist’s hands. Treatment must be slow and gentle to prevent the body from guarding in a protective response. This is why aggressive methods to stretch fascia often fail and can cause injuries by tearing the fascia and forming scar tissue that just adds to the problem of fascial tightness.

Fascia also holds tissue memory, and in releasing it, sometimes there is a release of emotions tied to an injury that was a cause of the problem. Stress and injury can cause guarding behavior and tissue tightness that become permanent over time, and MFR and working on emotional health helps a person recover from the physical and emotional effects of stress and trauma on the body.

MFR is helpful to so many conditions that have an underlying physical cause. The physical therapist who developed this treatment method forty years ago is John Barnes. He has developed courses and MFR certifications for physical therapists. There is a lot of information about MFR at myofascialrelease.com as well as directory of therapists treating with MFR. A person may also contact Therapy on the Rocks in Sedona, AZ, and ask for recommendations of therapists who have been trained in the John Barnes Methods. MFR therapy is becoming better known and accepted healing therapy, although there are some doctors who are unaware of the benefits.

I wanted to create this discussion to help organize this information and I thought the Neuropathy group would be a good place to start because someone in pain might look here, but we could have this discussion in many discussion groups. Animals such as dogs, cats and horses have also benefited from this therapy. Hopefully as we collect information here, this discussion can be referenced and shared in the many other discussions on Mayo Clinic Connect.

Here is an incomplete list of conditions that can be helped with MFR treatment.

You may find this list and further information at https://www.myofascialrelease.com/about/problems-mfr-helps.aspx

Back pain
Bladder Problems (Urgency, Frequency, Incontinence, Overactive Bladder, leakage
Birth Injuries
Bulging Disc
Bursitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cerebral Palsy
Cervical and Lumbar spine injuries
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Pain
Degenerative Disc Disease
Endometriosis
Emotional Trauma
Fibromyalgia
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
Herniated Disc
Headaches or Migraines
Infertility
Interstitial Cystitis
Menstrual Problems
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Neck Pain
Osteoarthritis
Pelvic Pain
Plantar Fascitis
Pudental Nerve Entrapment
Scars (hypertrophic, hypersensitive, painful, burn scars, mastectomy scars)
Sciatica
Scoliosis
Shin Splints
Tennis Elbow
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
TMJ syndrome
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Vulvodynia
Whiplash

@jenniferhunter

@helennicola You're welcome. The John Barnes MFR has been around for 40 years. Sometimes health care is just slow to accept something that prevents problems and doesn't involve drugs. The medical community in the last few years announced a "discovery" of the new organ they called the "interstitium" which is the fascial system. It is a semi liquid that converts between solid and liquid and also conducts electricity and stores tissue memory. There can be an emotional release with the regained function and maybe that wasn't accepted because it isn't just a mechanical tissue. It's a net that stretches different ways like a Chinese finger game that locks around your finger. My physical therapist says that plantar fasciitis actually starts with tightness in the leg or hip that pulls down to the feet causing pain. Hammer toes happen that way too according to my mom's podiatrist from the tightness of the path of the connective tissue. I had plantar faciitis for about a year and did a lot of stretching and relieved it. It might be your hip replacement that was involved, and the scar tissue from the surgery tightened the fascia. I get tightness in my neck from my surgical scar for spine surgery and I keep loosening it. A lot of PTs hand off to assistants who work with the patient, but my PT is a hands on person who does all the manual work herself and I have sessions that are all manual therapy instead of prescribed exercise routines. I can do strengthening exercises myself at home, but I can't do all of the releases she does in the clinic by myself. It takes more time for a therapist to do this and they can't supervise multiple patients at the same time in the name of profit, but it's the good ones who work this way.

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@jenniferhunter and everyone else who is experiencing or hoping to experience myofascial release therapy (MFR). I have some pretty astounding news to give you. For some time now I have been receiving MFR weekly. One of the reasons was to ensure that the numbness in my feet did not interfere with driving. l found that the MFR treatments also made me more stable and secure when walking. Now I have a new result which I just have to share. A few weeks ago, spring finally arrived and it was time to wear sandals and walk barefooted. Guess what? After the MFR sessions over the winter, I have been able to gain sensitivity in my feet to the extent that I can actually feel the insoles of my sandals as they touch my feet. That hasn't happened in a long time. And then, I walked across the carpet and lo and behold, I could feel the texture of the carpet on my instep. Halleluia!!! My feet have felt like the skin was leather for a long time. I was unstable because I didn't have any connection with my shoes. Now, we walk as one….my feet, my sandals. Most of the work on my feet was done by a student intern working under the guidance of an expert rated MFR therapist. We are all celebrating. I am bringing the champagne. There are joys to be had……results to be treasured and hope to be realized. Be safe, and free of suffering. Chris

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That sounds wonderful – glad you are able to experience a sensation that allows you to walk on clouds once again!

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@artscaping

@jenniferhunter and everyone else who is experiencing or hoping to experience myofascial release therapy (MFR). I have some pretty astounding news to give you. For some time now I have been receiving MFR weekly. One of the reasons was to ensure that the numbness in my feet did not interfere with driving. l found that the MFR treatments also made me more stable and secure when walking. Now I have a new result which I just have to share. A few weeks ago, spring finally arrived and it was time to wear sandals and walk barefooted. Guess what? After the MFR sessions over the winter, I have been able to gain sensitivity in my feet to the extent that I can actually feel the insoles of my sandals as they touch my feet. That hasn't happened in a long time. And then, I walked across the carpet and lo and behold, I could feel the texture of the carpet on my instep. Halleluia!!! My feet have felt like the skin was leather for a long time. I was unstable because I didn't have any connection with my shoes. Now, we walk as one….my feet, my sandals. Most of the work on my feet was done by a student intern working under the guidance of an expert rated MFR therapist. We are all celebrating. I am bringing the champagne. There are joys to be had……results to be treasured and hope to be realized. Be safe, and free of suffering. Chris

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@artscaping Chris, that's wonderful! Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your story.

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I just watched a video with a doctor talking about how myofascial release works, and that there are a lot of pain receptors in the fascia, and not so many in muscles, and when the fascia is tight it has a lot of pressure that generates pain. Here is the video.

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@golfshrink

This is an amazing description of what myofascial release does. I had a double knee replacement a year ago and have had a rough go of it. I’ve withstood a ton of pain in my life, but nothing like rehab for the surgery. With Months on end of no more than two hours sleep, constant pain, as well as aggressive Physical therapy that left me with PTSD, I finally found relief with alternative therapies. Acupuncture and myofascial release has been a god send and just makes sense. My physical pain is subsiding as well as the emotional pain that has been stored in my body. It’s giving me back my life!

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You are so right about the emotional pain that can be released along with the physical pain when you have MFR therapy.. My body broke into big sobs with tears the first I had it. So much trauma from a really bad marriage was released and continued with more therapy.. I'm so glad I had MFR…

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@hotfooted Thanks for sharing your experience with MFR and expanding the benefits of the therapy. I just got home from my weekly session and read your story. Be free of suffering today. Chris

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@hotfooted

You are so right about the emotional pain that can be released along with the physical pain when you have MFR therapy.. My body broke into big sobs with tears the first I had it. So much trauma from a really bad marriage was released and continued with more therapy.. I'm so glad I had MFR…

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@hotfooted I'm glad MFR helped you both physically and emotionally and it is common for people to release emotions during the sessions. It's those stressful and emotional issues that create the tension in fascia as well as injuries and scars. It feels good to be free of that doesn't it? Good for you for taking your life back.

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@jimmccarl

Has anyone found any relief from the effects of neuropathy?

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Hi Jim @jimmccarl, I've been thinking about Myofascial Release Therapy (MRT) but more for my back. There is a discussion on Myofascial Release Therapy. I'm tagging our moderator @lisalucier to see if we can move your post to the following discussion where you can meet other members discussing MRT.

> Groups > Neuropathy > Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/myofascial-release-therapy-mfr-for-treating-compression-and-pain/

@artscaping has discussed how myofascial release therapy has helped her neuropathy. I'm looking for a therapist that specializes in MRT that is local to Rochester but have not found one yet. Have you looked into myofascial release therapy to help your neuropathy?

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Has anyone found any relief from the effects of neuropathy?

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@jimmccarl

Has anyone found any relief from the effects of neuropathy?

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Hi, @jimmccarl – you may have noticed I moved your post to this existing discussion, "Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain." I did this so sharing on this topic would be in one place. Simply click VIEW & REPLY in your email notification to get to your post and read through some of the previous posts in this conversation.

I'd like to tag @jenniferhunter @hotfooted @nurseheadakes @artscaping to share further about their experiences with this therapy for neuropathy.

For what symptoms are you particularly seeking relief, @jimmccarl?

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@jimmccarl

Has anyone found any relief from the effects of neuropathy?

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@jimmccarl I've been doing myofascial release regularly with my physical therapist for about 5 years, and it has helped me a lot. My pain stems from physical compression and trigger points that prevent the normal movement of the soft tissue, and that can and does cause pain. I have thoracic outlet syndrome that entraps nerves and vessels as they pass through some small spaces in my neck and shoulder. MFR helps, and you have to be patient. It's about unwinding tight dehydrated tissues, restoring the circulation and getting them moving again which then allows the bones and muscles to align properly because they are not pulled out of shape by the fascia.

Recently my arm started hurting again all the time, and yesterday, my PT treated a fascial restriction at the junction of my arm and shoulder blade to the back of the arm pit where muscles from the rib cage, shoulder blades, neck and chest intersect. I am tight from my shoulder through my rib cage to my hips on this side. My PT had an assistant applying light pressure between my ribs and hips, and she pulled my arm up over my head and the fascia was making a tight path through all of that. It was locked and immovable, so she also used cupping, where a cup is placed with suction on the skin to pull on the fascia. With cups attached, I was to move my arm and shoulder through positions that stretched, and doing this relieved all the pain yesterday. It was about a 6 on a scale of 10, and I left that session after an hour with pain reduced to a one, only because there was some tightness left in the shoulder, but it has released enough of the tightness that the nerve in my arm stopped complaining. I've had similar experiences when we only do manual releases. Fascial restrictions are layers that you need to work through. While I was working on the TOS, I developed spinal cord compression from an old injury and had to stop MFR and physical therapy for spine surgery, but having done all the fascial work on my neck made my surgery easier for my doctor because the muscles in my neck moved easily so they could be retracted easily for surgery, and my recovery was easier for me, and I didn't have issues that can be risks of anterior cervical spine surgery. When I was recovered enough, I went back to therapy and MFR helped loosen the surgical scar tissue that causes fascial restrictions. I need to keep that moving correctly because of the proximity to the TOS areas. There is a lot you can do at home for fascial releases after the therapist teaches you how.

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@jimmccarl

Has anyone found any relief from the effects of neuropathy?

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Yes. Modifying diet (no sugar, dairy, gluten or processed foods), getting proper sleep, moderate & consistent exercise (assuming no weight issues which are an obvious contributor)….has stopped the progression for me. I have been relentless in finding the root cause, which is critical to a reversal. I’ll also add that I have SFN, which is different the PN in that the small nerves can regenerate. Don’t give up!

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